That tournament to sort of satisfy a group of teams that couldn’t find a way into the Champions League begins its group stage on Thursday. That’s right, it’s the return of the Europa League… not that anybody missed it. With all of UEFA’s tinkering with the Champions League and looming fight with everyone from leagues, to super clubs, to their own new president UEFA isn’t fooling anyone with their second-tier competition.
Fixing the Europa League isn’t much of a conversation without also working some magic on the Champions League. The Europa as we know it doesn’t exist without the bigger show. It’s where Champions League failures wash up, a consolation prize not likely to console anybody. Being a Europa League club might be better than not playing in Europe at all, but only by a little bit.
For the super clubs slumming it, they’re all well aware of what they’re missing. They also know that it’s the classic booby prize. Take it seriously only to fail, and they look suspect. Don’t take it seriously at all, and eager journalists and pundits await to criticize them for it.
So here we are, a month after UEFA helpfully carved out more guaranteed group stage places for the top clubs in future Champions Leagues. What that means for the Europa is obvious. They’ll get more of the underachievers and clubs that would probably be better off focusing on their domestic seasons rather than playing under Thursday night lights. That might even include some of the super clubs.
The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson has Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho not exactly savoring his club’s Europa League nights. A day late, but worth your time with The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuels explains what’s going to happen to the Champions League. Inside World Football’s Andrew Warshaw has the internal UEFA political fight over the changes to the Champions League. Goal.com’s Peter Staunton sees already complicating UEFA’s plans.
The Seattle Times’ Matt Pentz has Sounders forward Clint Dempsey back training following his diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat. ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle looks at the coaching options for Minnesota United. The Comeback’s Leander Schaerlaeckens wonders what Landon Donovan’s return says about emerging talent in MLS. The Toronto Sun’s Kurt Larson with Canada looking for a new coach after firing Benito Floro. The Canadian Soccer Association’s official announcement. BBC Sport has Guatemala facing a FIFA suspension.
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